If you like your vocals dreamy, your lyrics vivid and your instrumentals ballsy, then holy hell have we got the show for you. Playing live at Ancient World tonight, we had the chance to sit down with Wells front-man Alastair Cairns in the wake of the band dropping the seriously listenable single Fractures; the first track from their debut EP The Pale King.
If you haven’t already, we strongly recommend you give it a listen while you read on. You’re welcome.
What a debut. Fractures is a tantalising glimpse into the narrative world Wells are bringing to life, through transporting tunes and the aching video clips that accompany them, directed by Rory Pearson.
Alastair explains the EP for us, “The four songs [on the EP] were taken from a larger batch of songs, twelve tracks that were all interconnected with this one grand narrative, so it’s a story that goes all the way through track one to track twelve in some shape.”
On the meaning underlying it all, “The Pale King is a novel by David Foster Wallace, and a lot of people have been asking me is it inspired by David Foster Wallace. The answer is no, not really. I’ve never actually read the book, but I had it sitting there, and it was more the imagery evoked when I saw the title that inspired the narrative. I associated it with a lot of things thematically, like the pale riders of the apocalypse, some characters and a story took shape from there.”
To develop the tracks' accompanying video clips, “Essentially [Rory and I] had a long conversation about what the meaning behind the songs, and he created his own storyline inspired by the themes, rather than the actual story… This meant [the clips] worked really well as a companion piece rather than a literal translation of what I had going on in the song. The first clip, the one for Fractures, was originally conceived as a teaser clip, a first taste of the story and of the music itself.
The next one coming out soon is for a song called Shepherd, which contains a lot more in terms of the central story itself. Without giving too much away, it’s about the transformation of a character coming to terms with changes in themselves, transforming from something of a gentle soul to a bit of a monster.”
Producing music that is rich melodically and seriously potent lyrically, Wells’ song-writing process is an art in itself, separate from performance. On his approach to song-writing, Alastair had the following to say.
“I don’t really have one [method] that I stick to all the time. I’ll generally sit down with my guitar and I often have an idea that I'll want to get across. I usually have one or two little lyrical lines that I’d love to include, so yeah my starting place is usually lyrical. There’s a lot of contribution from the guys in that they all write their own parts. For the songs that are on the EP I had written those songs already and brought them to the band, so it was very much a matter of building on sort of a raw base.”
Discussing his fellow band members, Alastair makes it clear that each musician brings something unique and valuable. “Richard [Bessell] our guitar player, brings fantastic melodic parts and a bit of edge that I don’t think would be there otherwise… Daniel [Shaw] has probably got the strongest theory base of us all, and writes these really intricate bass parts.” Contrastingly Joshua Isaac, “is a really tasteful drummer, who subscribes to the theory that often less is more.”
Bring it all together and the result is magic, though Alastair is forced to shine as a soloist for some dates of Wells’ tour, a challenge he rises to, and exceeds. Don’t believe us? See for yourself, you can catch Alastair playing Wells’ best material this very evening from 8pm at Ancient World for a token $2 entry price.